Above the Fold
FRONT PAGE NEWS!! Everybody wants good news about their business plastered across the front page of the newspaper, right? But how did the front page become such valuable advertising real estate? And now that we advertise online instead of on paper, where's that prime real estate today?
Remember when people bought newspapers off street-side stands? The newspaper publishers used a technique called “the fold” to encourage buying. The basic idea is this: the most important and interesting news story of the day was plastered across the top of the section. So, if the paper was folded in half and placed so that only this big news story was above this fold, facing upwards, then the papers would be able to draw attention to the most important story. The story would intrigue readers enough that it would call them to the action of picking up the newspaper and hopefully coaxing them into buying it.
Today, the concept lives on in web design. The only difference is that the fold nowadays is the line where the screen cuts off a page before you have to scroll. Today we're coaxing people who land at our home page to click our call to action link or button in the hopes that they'll sign up for our mailer, put something in a shopping cart, or fill out a form requesting more info about our product or service.
How many clicks it takes a visitor to get to the information they seek is an essential number to be paying attention to when you're planning your website. Why? People are lazy. They don't want to scroll. They don't want to plow through disorganized navigation. They don't want to have to read five paragraphs to figure out what your company does. They need to be able to accomplish all those things before they ever click their mouse.
All that information needs to be above the fold, so they can be in and out in two clicks -- kind of like running in and out of a store for a quick box of milk. If it's taking them more than two or three clicks to get something into a shopping cart where they're typing in their credit card information to convert their click to a sale, they're going to get frustrated and abandon the cart. That's a sale you just lost -- not because your product didn't entice the buyer, but because you made it too difficult for them to buy it.
You've got to make it easy for people to buy your product or service.
Well-optimized website design is a key factor when considering how well or how poorly your web presence is faring. You don't need to buy a $6000 website that's not optimized when a $600 website that's optimized is available and will do better at converting clicks into sales! Know what "a good looking website" really means and how "good" is measured before you start shopping for your next design team. Don't fork out another dime into any more "pretty" websites that don't convert into sales. Be an informed consumer.
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